Lane splitting is a hot topic among drivers everywhere, with many motorcyclists fighting to make it possible throughout the country. Since no one likes being stuck in slow or stopped traffic, it’s highly tempting for motorcycle drivers to bypass other vehicles to get somewhere faster. But is lane splitting legal in Texas? Should it be?
The attorneys at Lee, Gober & Reyna are breaking down Texas lane splitting and whether it’s legal or safe in the Lone Star State.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist drives on the white dashed lines between established lanes to maneuver through stopped or slowed traffic. This driving process is known as white lining, stripe riding, or lane sharing.
What Are the Benefits of Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is really only beneficial for motorcyclists, as it helps them move through traffic faster and take up less space in a lane, which could help reduce congestion.
From an environmental standpoint, lane splitting could help lower exhaust emissions since the motorcycle isn’t idling in stopped traffic. However, there isn’t a significant impact since there are still more cars idling than motorcycles could offset.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?
Currently, no law makes lane splitting legal in Texas. Transportation code Sec. 545.060 directs that all drivers should drive within one lane, eliminating lane splitting as a legal option.
Who Is Allowed to Lane Split?
Only motorcyclists have the ability to lane split due to the size and design of their bikes. However, in Texas, lane splitting is not allowed for any driver, even if people still do it.
California is currently the only state where lane splitting is legal, and Utah made lane filtering — motorcyclists moving to the front of the line at intersections — legal in 2019.
Recent Bills to Legalize Lane Splitting
There have been many efforts to make lane splitting legal in Texas, though they have yet to be successful. Some of the most notable attempts happened in 2015, 2017, and 2019.
In 2015, two separate bills were filed to the Texas legislature. Both of these bills pushed for lane splitting to be legal where traffic is moving at 20 mph or less. However, neither bill made it past transportation committees before legislative sessions closed for the year.
In 2017, a representative from Austin submitted SB 288, which tried to modify transportation code Sec. 545.060 to allow for lane splitting. This proposed bill was struck down before it could be brought to a committee vote.
In 2019, the Texas legislature tried to pass SB 273 to address lane splitting. However, it never passed the Senate Transportation Committee and was never made into law.
Lane Splitting Penalties
In Texas, lane splitting comes with a penalty fine of $175. Additionally, if an accident happens due to lane splitting, the motorcyclist could be held liable as negligent and for reckless driving. If a driver is charged with reckless driving, they could also get an additional $200 fine and the possibility of up to 30 days in jail.
Is Lane Splitting Safe?
Many experts believe that lane splitting is safer for motorcyclists, with a study from U.C. Berkeley producing these findings:
- Lane splitting is safe if traffic is moving at 50 mph or less and if motorcyclists do not exceed the speed of other vehicles by more than 15 mph.
- Lane-splitting riders are significantly less likely to be rear-ended than non-lane-splitting riders — 2.6% vs. 4.6%
- Lane-splitting motorcyclists were markedly less likely to suffer a head injury (9% vs. 17%), torso injury (19% vs. 29%), or fatal injury (1.2% vs. 3%) compared to motorcyclists who don’t lane split.
However, Texas has the second-highest number of motorcycle fatalities in the country, with roughly 483 deaths in 2020. This is a 16% increase from 2019. Additionally, there is limited space between cars driving next to each other, and motorcycle drivers increase their risk of hitting a car as they try to lane split. So, while lane splitting may be deemed safe by some, it is not particularly safe in Texas.
In most states, including Texas, lane splitting is not beneficial for most motorists, so it’s simply not allowed.
Involved in a Lane-Splitting Accident? Get Legal Help Today
Lane splitting is illegal in Texas, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. If you have been injured in an accident as a result of someone else lane splitting, you should seek legal counsel from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney in Texas.
The attorneys at Lee, Gober & Reyna are ready to help you build your personal injury case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us as soon as possible to get started with a free consultation.